It’s Time – By The Wine Guy

    While there are exceptions, there is, more and more, that proverbial “nip” in the air. Soon it’ll be time to put the summer furniture away, maybe light a fire to take off the chill and have a glass of some great red wine. I think we should start strong.


    We all know the saying that, sometimes, “good things come in small packages”. That is so true when it comes to Portugal, one of Europe’s smaller countries, but also the country with more varieties of grape than any other on the continent;400+ varieties.


    Of the thousands of wines made there, one of the best-known is Niepoort Redoma Tinto, from the country’s Douro region. The most recent vintage, from 2016, has edgy tannins that represent the wilderness and the steepness of the vineyards and the strong character results from the mountain viticulture; the mineral notes express the schist soils and the rich aromas express the sunny summer days. Redoma was the first Douro still wine produced by Niepoort in 1991. Many things have changed since then in the Douro but Redoma has kept its character. Niepoort Redoma Tinto, 2016, Douro, ($9.99), has just become available in the U.S.; if you see it, buy it and have it with big roasts, great steaks and people you really love.


    From the Napa Valley, one of the oldest names in California wines is just that because of the superb terroir and location and the consistency of their winemaking for more than 100 years. One of their most outstanding recent wines is the Trefethen 2015 Double T Red Blend, Napa Valley, ($22.95). Trefethen Vineyards is world famous for their extraordinary estate Cabernet from their vineyard in the Oak Knoll region of Napa Valley. Much like a second label Bordeaux, The Double T label was launched to use the estate fruit that doesn’t make it into the main bottling. Grapes for this Double T Red come from the very same estate vineyard but some from the young vines and some are blending varietals that they have more of than they need, but all of it is prime thanks to their exceptional location at the cool end of Napa Valley, and the outstanding vintage. This blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. All of the lots are vinified separately, and the wine aged 15 months. Malbec brings plush fruit characters and a hint of floral with Cabernet Sauvignon providing the backbone, Merlot adds a lively spice and herbal character. Cabernet Franc provides finesse and a peppery perfume and Petit Verdot adds color and structure. This is one of the all-time favorite Napa Valley reds, don’t miss it!!!


    Another great Cabernet comes from Freelander Winery, a new project owned by Mike O’Connell, who also owns Grayson Cellars.

    FREELANDER DISTRICT ONE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 2016, Central Valley, ($16.99), is a deliciously fruit forward, easy drinking California Cab which goes with everything from spaghetti bolognaise and braised lamb shanks to French Comte cheese. The big fruit is beautiful opposite some good char on grilled steak or lamb chops… or, you can treat it as your favorite weeknight Cab and break out your first bottle while settling in for a pizza dinner, burgers or pot roast with mushroom gravy. Or you could enjoy it on its own.

    Probably today’s best value is Rosso Di Montalcino 2015 Lo Scorno, San Filippo, ($24.99). It comes from an area of Northern Montalcino close to Biondi Santi’s Il Greppo and La Serena, the wines of San Filippo are ageworthy and elegant, though very approachable in their youth. The estate has just 26 acres under vine. Founded in 1972, the estate was recently purchased by Roberto Giannelli who restored and renovated the entire facility. He produces this Rosso from a mature 6-acre vineyard with north-northeastern exposure and clay, calcareous soils. 100% Sangiovese Grosso, fermentation is in stainless steel vats with temperature control after a cold pre-maceration soak for 2 days. The wine matured for 12 months in oak casks, finishing in the bottle for 3 months. This wine is well-defined and intense, with cherries and spice on the nose. The palate shows good structure and balance, with silky tannins and persistent flavors of black cherry, plum, tobacco and spice. This one is really going to surprise you!


    I know we’re a Blue state, but next week, we’re going to look at another kind of “Red Wave”.

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